Lori at Write Mind Open Heart was asked some questions from an adult adoptee. She was adopted in the 1950s when closed adoptions were the rule, and had some questions about how open adoptions work. She asked the questions to be answered by people with different perspectives (first mother, adoptee, adoptive parent), and I thought I’d give it a shot. Here goes…
1. Can the adoptive parents really go back on their word after the adoption has been finalized and do whatever they please in regard to updates and pictures?
In most cases, the answer is unfortunately yes. An open adoption agreement is NOT a legally binding agreement in every state. Certainly not in ours; we were told that it was a morally binding document rather than legally binding. So when the going gets tough, sometimes the tough break off communication entirely. There’s only one person that this really hurts, and it’s not the “adults” in the circle.
2. Who is the go-between for communication with most Open Adoptions: the case worker, the placing agency, or the lawyer handling the adoption?
I’m not going to speak for most open adoptions. Every one that I know of appears to be different. But I can say that our agency was the one who began the communications of scheduled letters/pictures/etc. It was mediated by our social worker and M & S’s social worker. At first. At this time, there is no go-between for those of us already in communication with each other (not all parts of our adoption are open, and not by our choice).
3. Is there an incentive such as money for the adoption agency to be still involved indirectly and indefinitely for an Open Adoption? Does it cost the prospective adoptive parents more money upfront for it to be an open adoption?
There didn’t appear to be any financial incentive for our agency. As far as we could tell, it was a standard infant adoption, with standard fees involved. There weren’t any ongoing payments that had to be made after the adoption was finalized, regardless of whether or not the social workers continued to be involved with visits.
4. What deters the birth parents from coming to your house unannounced?
The same thing that deters any other family members from showing up whenever the hell they feel like doing so. Manners and common decency. Nothing more. I’m not sure there should be, either.
5. Do you know if there are any court cases where it’s obvious that there are loopholes in Open Adoption that need to be addressed?
Court cases? No.
6. Just like there are issues with closed adoptions and we have the outspoken activists’, etc., are there any Open Adoption opponents or vice versa that are working to be the voice for the birth mothers as well as the adoptive children and their best interests?
Yes. I believe they are the same ones involved in closed adoptions as well. In every case, they would prefer than adoption be illegal.
7. When is the adoptee old enough to choose if they want contact or not? What if they are the ones who want to break off ties with the bio parents?
I can only speak for our family here. Our daughter is 9. She’s old enough to have her own email account, and uses it to communicate with her first mother. They’ve been doing so off and on for almost a year. If, when she’s 18, she chooses to break off communication, that will be her business and hers alone.
8. Are there any support groups/legal aids for birth mothers where they can get honest answers with their concerns for open adoptions?
I think a first mother would be able to answer that far more effectively than me.
There weren’t all the questions; there were some that I was unable to answer for various reasons, most of which revolve around my not being that bright. However, there are other people who have over at Lori’s blog. Hit the link at the top of the post and enjoy.